A new study recently conducted by researchers from the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry looks at the effects of using e-cigarettes or ‘vaping‘ on the oral health of a person.
More specifically, it highlights that the use of a vape or e-cigarettes may not only be harmful to the health of the lungs but also for dental health as it increases the risk of infections of the teeth and gums by altering the oral microbiome.
Previously, research has identified a number of health issues linked to the practice of vaping and found that it had a major link with product-use associated lung injury.
Initially introduced as a safer alternative for smoking or as a tool used to help people quit smoking, vapes and e-cigarettes quickly gained popularity among the younger population within the US as well as other countries.
In the September of 2019, vaping became a threat to the public health and was declared a national ‘outbreak’ as the number of emergency visits, hospitalizations, injuries, and deaths continued to occur throughout the rest of the year.
Consequently, the sale of any kind of e-cigarettes or flavored vapes was banned in many states in the US. The decision received a lot of backlash from many supporters who claimed that the law will come in the way for people who wish to quit smoking cigarettes.
However, there is scientific evidence to corroborate the harmful benefits of vaping which outweigh the ‘quit smoking’ claim. In fact, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has also reported around 2,807 hospitalizations and deaths from fifty states.
Now, the new research, whose findings appear in the journal iScience, shows yet another negative effect of using e-cigarettes on the first body that vaping reaches – the mouth.
The oral cavity or the mouth of every individual contains the microbiome community which is fundamental for keeping several infections away and maintaining the health of the gums and teeth.
There is a delicate balance in the microbiome which means that harmful substances from practices like vaping can significantly damage it and increase the risk of infections in the mouth.
To test this theory, the researchers looked at 119 participants who were divided into three groups: cigarette smokers, e-cigarette smokers, and non-smokers.
Then, the oral microbiome of all the participants was profiled by the researchers using a particular type of genetic sequencing. After doing saw, several changes were noted in the microbiome from participants who used vapes or e-cigarettes.
In comparison with non-smokers and cigarette smokers, the e-cigarette smokers had a higher number of Porphyromonas and Veillonella bacteria.
Both of these bacteria have previously been linked to inflammatory gum infection. A higher number of them, therefore, greatly increases the risk of developing the infection in the future.
In addition to these findings, the researchers also discovered an increase in the number of two inflammatory markers by exposing culture cells from the pharynx to fumes from common e-cigarettes and finding that the cells were more likely to get infected after the exposure .
This highlights that vaping may also lower the immune system in the long run. Deepak Saxena, who is the senior co-author of the study, concluded the study in the words:
“Our study suggests that vaping electronic cigarettes causes shifts in the oral environment and highly influences the colonization of complex microbial biofilms, which raises the risk of oral inflammation and infection.”